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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Practicing at Home

Sam Snow

My 10-year old son plays soccer and loves to play and go to the team practices. He is in good programs with good coaches, but he doesn't want to practice between team practices and work on things the coaches have given him to improve on. When I do get him to practice at home, and point out that he isn't doing what his coaches have taught him and we end up arguing.
Am I expecting too much from a 10 year old?
When he does practice, should I just let him practice the wrong way, as long as he is practicing, and let his coaches worry about getting him to improve?
- a concerned parent
 
There are a few important factors in this scenario to consider.  The most important one is the child’s self-motivation.  For an athlete to become top class in any sport requires a lot of drive and determination.  That must come from within.  No one else can put those emotions into the player, only he or she can produce those qualities.  However, the right soccer environment can inspire those emotions to grow in a young player.  Coaches, teammates and parents should inspire young players to practice and play more on their own.  Yes, parents could force the issue and make a young player put in extra practice, but the results will fall short of the results that come from the player deciding on his or her own to put in the same extra time with the ball.
If the coach has given players soccer homework then by all means parents should remind their child to do that assigned practice.  Fundamentally approach it as you do with the child’s academic homework.  Specifically to the question of if he does practice but he’s doing it wrong the answer is yes.  If the child asks for assistance then help out, otherwise let him or her practice on their own.  If technique mistakes are being made then the coach can help the player to correct them at the team training sessions.  The most important point is the child’s decision to get out on his or her own to play the game and practice ball skills.  That’s when parents give praise!

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Guidelines for Heading in Soccer

Sam Snow

Not long ago an article hit the World Wide Web that speaks to the alleged dangers of heading the ball in soccer. The article was brought to my attention by Rick Meana, Technical Director for New Jersey Youth Soccer and Andy Coutts, Director of Technical Education for Minnesota Youth Soccer. Here’s the article:http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2011-11-29/Heading-a-football-could-lead-to-brain-damage/51463474/1.
 
I am not qualified in medicine, so I use the findings of FMARC (FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center) and the U.S. Soccer Sports Medicine Committee to understand the risks of any soccer technique. Here is a document that I hope you will use to educate coaches on the progression for teaching heading in soccer.
 
Concerning the specific article mentioned above here’s the feedback from Don Kirkendall, member FMARC:
 
"I saw a different news item about this topic, too. Remember, that this is a presentation and presentations don't go through the rigor of peer review anywhere near the level of critique of a journal publication. Based on what I've read, my first inkling is that it won't get published. Here are the primary factors that a reviewer has to ask of every paper they review:
 
History: What do the subjects bring into the study? Don't care how detailed the interviews were, they were asking questions about a lifetime of soccer, heading exposure, injuries. FMARC data shows that players forget about half their injuries from that year. This is about a lifetime. I bet if you surveyed players about how many times they headed the ball during a match vs. what was captured on film the results would be remarkably different. History is a HUGE issue with this project. And I haven't even brought up learning disabilities, alcohol, non-sports head injury, non-head injuries, or drug intake. Plus, players this age paid little attention to concussions when they were half their age, so how many did they have? The only accurate answer is "...that I can recall". Hardly firm data.
 
Maturation: This is about changes over the course of a study. Not as critical here, but this group is making conclusions about the adult brain based on something that may have happened before the brain had matured.
 
Testing: Oral interviews using a 'detailed' questionnaire (that from another media outlet). One might wonder about the validity of the Q and A. Were the questions 'leading' the subject on one direction or another? Given the emotions surrounding this topic, this probably needs to be considered.
 
Instrumentation: MRI is getting very good; a question could be that it is finding variants that have little or no effect. Sort of like the right handed pitcher with a crooked left pinkie; a variant of no consequence.
 
Statistical Regression: Tendency for extreme scores to migrate toward the mean. Basketball team shoots 75% one game is due for a 25% game soon. Not sure this would be as much of an issue as other topics.
 
Experimental Mortality: Subjects who are included in the study fail to complete it-they drop out, move, die, get sick or hurt, etc. How were the subjects selected? What were the inclusion and exclusion criteria? Any bias in selection stacks the deck one way or another.
Selection-Maturation Interaction: are subjects selected because they have a tendency to gain (or not to gain) much during the study.
 
Hawthorne Effect: People behave differently when they know they are being studied. This has been shown to be an issue in concussion research. Mention the word, and people are on edge, so to speak.
 
Those are just the 'standard' items that can lead to an alternative hypothesis for the results. I haven't even approached the actual data and interpretation of the data. We'll have to wait this one out. Stick with the FMARC data for now. Sorry for going on about the peer review process. But the popular media will run with this without doing due diligence."

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My Experience as a Clinician at the Ontario Soccer Association Coaching Conference

Sam Snow

A week ago I had the pleasure to be a clinician at the Ontario Soccer Association Coaching Conference as a part of the Canada Soccer Association implementation of Long Term Player Development (LTPD) for their Olympic sports.  For our sport LTPD takes into account that it takes more than 20 years to deeply develop a top notch soccer player.

On March 23rd I gave a class session to the technical directors. Please click here for the PowerPoint presentation: [link]. On March 24th I conducted a demo session on Defending Games for the public.

 

Club Head Coach and Technical Director Workshop

 

 

When: Saturday March 23, 2013 from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
Where: Four Points by Sheraton - Toronto Airport
6257 Airport Road
Mississauga, ON L4V 1E4

 

 

Hello Club Head Coaches and Technical Directors! 

The workshop schedule will go as follows:

  • 12:30 - 1:30 - Workshop Registration
  • 1:30 - 1:45 - Opening Comments - Alex Chiet
  • 1:45 - 2:30 - Sam Snow
  • 2:30 - 3:00 - Nick Levett
  • 3:00 - 3:15 - BREAK
  • 3:15 - 4:00 - John Herdman
  • 4:00 - 4:45 - Panel Questions
  • 4:45 - 5:00 - Coach Department Update - Mark Marshall
 

It was quite encouraging to hear from a national team head coach an approach to not only coaching a national team, but also the plan for the development of female football for an entire nation hitting on many of the same philosophies and methods that we advocate. Mindset and problem solving/tactical awareness were central themes of coach Herdman’s lecture and practical sessions.

It was also good to receive indirect validation of the American approach from a renowned national association, the Football Association. The Future Game is the new model in England. Indeed, as you look now at the coaching and player development schemes of many nations you’ll see common ground with the direction that US Youth Soccer has taken for many years. The common points are the use of guided discovery, player-centered training and matches, small-sided games, problem solving by players in training to create a soccer savvy player, the use of games based training, etc.

2013 Ontario Soccer Association
Coaching Conference Information and Schedule